tiistai 2. toukokuuta 2017

REVIEW - inFamous 2

GENRE(S): Action-adventure, Third-person shooter, Open-world
AVAILABLE ON: PlayStation 3
DEVELOPER(S): Sucker Punch Productions
PUBLISHER(S): Sony Computer Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2011

This game is most infamous (no pun intended - or perhaps it was) for the development hell it went through in its very short developmental period. Sucker Punch went to work on the game immediately after the release of the original inFamous, and unveiled the new product in the summer of 2010, only to be mauled by fans by completely changing the character of Cole MacGrath, all the way from the original voice actor to his more "attractive", heroic look. Sucker Punch defended their decision by explaining they needed a new kind of character to tell the story better (I, for one, am all in for that!), but ultimately they had no choice but to mix and match elements, both old and new, to create a satisfactory Cole MacGrath from scratch. Well, the game was done in a year into the first trailer, and the PlayStation community exploded in excitement. After all the setbacks, inFamous 2 got mighty fine reviews from the media, and much acclaim from fans of the original. All of the original's mistakes and black spots were allegedly washed out. Still, after reading a dozen of great reviews, I pushed the game back for all these years. It's just been there, on the shelf, gathering dust. After finishing this game, supposed to be bigger, badder and better than the original inFamous in every single aspect, I'm kinda disappointed. In myself, that is. inFamous was a solid game, inFamous 2 is a near must-have for fans of action-adventure.

Shock and awe

The Electric Man, a.k.a. The Demon of Empire City, a.k.a. Cole MacGrath, still in a very confused mental state over the events that transpired during the Empire City blackout, is contacted by another NSA Agent named Lucy Kuo. Kuo tells Cole that her associate, a brilliant scientist who created the notorious Ray Sphere, has created a new weapon capable of taking down Cole's future nemesis - the enigmatic Beast. Just as Cole, Zeke and Kuo are departing for his lab in the city of New Marais, the aforementioned behemoth shows up and gives Cole a very painful demonstration of his powers, draining most of Cole's, and utterly destroying what's left of Empire City right before his eyes, just as Cole was foretold in the very end of the original inFamous. Cole and Zeke establish a new base of operations in New Marais, to track down the scientist, kill the Beast, and take down a rich, shady bastard who's turned the city into a police state of his own - and apparently has strong connections to many of Cole's sworn enemies including the Beast. It's gonna be a long journey - how it all ends is up to you. Famous or infamous, round two.

Ain't got the number of the Beast.
I never had any special kind of love for inFamous. I finished the game once, and then put it to sleep. I bought inFamous 2 and played it for about two minutes before deciding I wasn't ready for it before I'd finished inFamous for a second time. Fast forward five years, I finally finished inFamous for the second and definitive time, actually thinking it was better than I remembered, but still I wasn't too stoked about inFamous 2 for some reason. Perhaps it was the story that still didn't stick that good, for me to bear through another sandbox-shaped apple from the same tree. Well, about thirty minutes into inFamous 2, I was dead certain I was heading into a very similar and therefore very accessible, but much better game. The voice acting is lightyears ahead of the previous game. The dynamic cutscenes do wonders to the storytelling - there are only a literal few of those comic book cutscenes here, only at a few key points of the game, including the prologue and the two completely different epilogues of the game. The city of New Marais - much inspired by New Orleans - is a much more interesting, diverse and somewhat sexier playground than the flat and repetitive Empire City. There are three completely different areas of the city for you to explore, all with their own types of enemies just like the first game, but also, different environments and conditions for you to try and survive.

I hate hippies.
First consulting my girlfriend, who's also a hardcore gamer, about the differences between whether you're playing it nice or being an asshole, revealed a whole different story behind the supposedly superficial karmic system. Playing the game through as a different character revealed the truth, which was even more awesome than I could've imagined. The game itself is not that different, but the story is full of remarkably different twists depending on which side you're playing. The story is the key to this game - it's absolutely amazing. It picks up from where inFamous left off, but delivers it so much more beautifully, and moreover, naturally. In other words, if you decide to do something evil as a good guy, the transition (or just one single step outside your personal game) is explained so much better, and it feels more natural. The core gameplay hasn't changed all that much - I can think of only a few things that have gone through some changes - but there's a lot of new stuff here, a lot more than you would initially expect from a game that was in development for two years and had to suffer through somewhat of a development hell just because of one design element fans didn't like.

No good deeds go unpunished

The sandbox of inFamous has been littered with all kinds of extras. Side missions are accompanied by karma-based mini-missions; for the good guys out there, there's a bomber running through New Marais who's turned Blast Shards (them good ol' Blast Shards) into bombs for you to locate and defuse, and of course dig up the remains of the bomb to slowly upgrade your juice meter. Civilians in need of pulse healing are now shown on the minimap, as well as civilians getting mugged by the prominent militia troops of the city. Bad guys get street entertainers to kill, and more Blast Shards to pry from the hands of dead civilians. For online enthusiasts, there are user-generated missions - yeah, you can create missions. How cool is that? The actual UGC is stuffed into the pause menu, but as long as you're playing online, Sucker Punch's own examples are scattered all over the map for you to take part in and take notes, if you're interested in such stuff.

Once again, the story is one hell of a key to this game, and I can't possibly emphasize its greatness enough. It starts slow, there's a couple of hot points here and there in the middle, and nearing the end, regardless of your alignment, it just explodes and you'll be remembering it for a long time, especially if you played the original game. The decisions you make during the story are always built up and explained so you wouldn't have the slightest chance of making a mistake against your desired outcome. Most of the time, you even have two characters of opposing alignments by your side, kind of like the angel and the devil on your shoulder, fully explaining their views on the many situations at hand, and their opinions on what you should do. They're brilliant characters too, so the decision-making in this game, as easy as it might sometimes feel like, they both have brilliant arguments that are hard to ignore.

City slicker.
The combat is generally more diverse, as even your basic shock attack uses up juice, which leaves you with the option of stocking up on hard-to-find generators, or taking a risk and getting up, close and personal with the enemies using the newly added melée weapon known as the Amp. It looks rad, and plays out even more rad, especially with upgrades. Speaking of the upgrades, there's no more stunt list for you to complete just for Trophies' sake, but doing enough of these (much easier) stunts garners you the license to buy more upgrades with your hard-earned EXP. The amounts the game forces you to do are very reasonable, and the stunts are just way more fun to try out when there's some actual benefit involved.

So, it's good - the game's very good. ...But. Are the original game's problems completely flushed? All but one - repetition. The further you go, and the closer you get to the end, the story gets better while the gameplay takes a run up the sad mill by ways of repetitive waves of repetitive enemies and repetitive missions even within the confines of the storyline. Once you get to the final fight, though, all of that matters a little less. The "good" ending in itself is one of the best scenes I've seen in any game for a long time, and what makes it feel even better is that the first game wasn't much of a poetic masterpiece. All in all, I can't find very many things besides that to complain about when it comes to inFamous 2. It's one of the true (semi-)hidden gems of the last ten years.


I kind of put it out there already, and there's very little to add. inFamous 2 is a fantastic game that outshines its predecessor by one fantastic mile. The few dips into the sea of repetition, more usual the further the story goes, are not enough to hurt a great story so fantastically told, and a game that generally whips a lot of the supposed sandbox greats off the table right out of its hiding place. Check it out - regardless of where you live, I don't think it'll rattle your finances too much nowadays.

+ Great story, great voiceovers, better storytelling
+ More dynamic cutscenes, less of those comic book stills
+ The controls are even more fluid than before
+ Player choices are more consequential
+ Great upgrades to grant an even more fluid gameplay experience
+ The sexiness and diversity of New Marais

- Still repetitive, especially towards the otherwise great ending(s)
- Some annoying control-related glitches here and there, though less annoying than having to deal with Sixaxis controls in the slightest

< 8.9 >

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